Fabulous Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Today is my daughter’s 13th birthday!  Woohoo!  Another journey with a teenager.  I am not sure if I am ready for it but what is a mom to do?

Celebrate with chocolate cake, that’s what we do.

Birthday

We had my family over on the weekend to help celebrate.  When making a cake for my family, I need to consider gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free.

So this is what I came up with. (For you visual folks, I promised my daughter that I will make another one on the weekend so I will take step-by-step photos and post them here.  Watch this space)

I had chickpea flour on hand and did not have time to go out to get brown rice flour and such so I decided to make the chickpea flour work.

I mixed it up with baking powder, baking soda, salt, coconut sugar and cacao powder.

I considered that chickpea flour is quite dry so to avoid a dry crumbly cake, I soaked some flax seed (as if I was using and egg) and shredded a zucchini (who doesn’t have tons of zucchini right now?!).

I wanted a rich tasting chocolate so I took my best bar of dark chocolate and melted it.  Organic, 85% cacao .

Still thinking about the chickpea flour being dry, I thought that I would use olive oil.  It makes a very smooth pesto so why not a smooth, creamy cake?  I was worried about the flavour of olive oil taking over but then I considered that the chickpea flour flavour is also strong and so is chocolate so I decided that the flavours would likely blend together.

I put all the liquid ingredients in a bowl (minus the water) with the zucchini and flax and mixed them together with my hand blender to create a smooth mixture.

This I added to the dry ingredients and then slowly added the water to get the consistency of a thinner muffin batter.

Once baked, the cake was beautifully high and I was exited!  Unfortunately, it did slowly fall.  I know that there is a scientific reason for this but I am not sure what that is.

To make it a true birthday cake, I made an icing with cashews.  I put all of the ingredients in the food processor and in a few minutes I had heaven.  I put this on top of the cake and all around.

When I served the slices, I put a dollop of raspberries (defrosted from the freezer) and a little touch of the raspberry juice on each one.

Delicious!

p.s. 9 of us ate the entire cake!  My brother eating most of it.  HeeHee!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 9" cake
 
This is a rich delicious cake that will please every palate. I promise. Remember to use organic ingredients whenever possible.
Ingredients
  • 3 teaspoons ground flax seed, soaked in 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, himalayan or sea
  • ½ cup sweetener...raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates that have been soaked and pureed
  • 2 teaspoons cacao powder
  • Cashew Icing
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked a few hours
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup very finely shredded zucchini (courgette), that has been peeled
  • 100g dark chocolate bar, melted (I used 85% cacao, organic)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup olive oil or ⅓ cup melted coconut oil and ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water (may need less if using a liquid sweetener)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Prepare a 9" cake pan with parchment paper or greasing.
  3. In a small bowl, place the ground flax and the water. Stir and let sit to absorb.
  4. In a large bowl, combine chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cacao powder. If you are using a dry sweetener, add it to this mixture.
  5. Shred the zucchini in a separate bowl.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  7. To the zucchini, add the flax, melted chocolate, vanilla and oil. If using a liquid sweetener, add this now. Mix until smooth. You will find it helpful to use your hand blender for this.
  8. Add this mixture to the flour and stir until combined. Add the water, ½ cup at a time until it is smooth. Consistency should be thinner than muffin batter but not runny.
  9. Place in a 9" cake pan and bake 25-30 minutes.
  10. The cake will rise up and look fluffy. Be prepared for it to fall and be a short cake. Doesn't change the taste though!
  11. While the cake is baking, make the cashew icing. Place all ingredients in your food processor. Start by pulsing until the mixture starts to break up. Then process for a few minutes. You may need to stop the processor a few times to scrap down the sides. Continue processing until it is smooth. Put in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. Now it is ready to spread around the cake.
  12. When serving, top with a few raspberries, if desired

 

Beware: This May Get Steamy

Sauna

I am super lucky because my place of employment has a steam room.  I am allowed to use it whenever I want (outside of my work hours, of course).

You know by now that I am a big believer in ‘You are what you eat’.  Besides ensuring that I am eating the healthiest foods for my body and avoiding all chemicals on my skin, I also work on getting rid of toxins that are getting into my body.

We don’t always have complete control over the environment that we live in and can absorb many toxins on a daily basis… exhaust fumes, computers, other peoples’ chemicals from perfume/cologne, hairspray, lotion, dryer sheets, etc, fumes from paint, new carpet, new cars, etc.  These toxins we breathe in and they can settle into our bodies, wreaking havoc on our systems.

I like the idea of regularly using a steam room or a sauna, to induce sweating and get rid of some of these ‘nasties’ that we don’t want inside of us.  As little as 15 minutes, a few times per week, can benefit your health immensely.

In case you are not familiar with these beautiful rooms…

A sauna uses dry heat, whereas a steam bath uses high humidity – both open up pores to eliminate toxins through sweat, relieve joint pain, strengthen the immune system and improve blood circulation.

Heat above 160 degrees F, or 71 degrees C (often is much, much hotter than this) is the usual temperature in a dry sauna room.

A steam room has a lower temperature – not more than 110 degrees F or 43 degrees C, though the level of humidity is very high at 100 degrees.

Both places have the following benefits:
  • lower pulse and blood pressure by causing blood vessels to dilate
  • increase circulation and make you sweat
  • benefit cardiovascular health
  • promote healthy and deep sleep
  • heat gives pain relief and can help conditions caused by inflammation such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • relax muscles
  • generate feelings of calmness and relaxation

A steam room is excellent for any respiratory conditions.

  • clears sinuses and lung congestion
  • loosens and clears mucus from nose, chest and throat

Caution: A steam room may aggravate asthma

Caution is advised if you have heart and blood conditions (hypertension, low blood pressure, heart disease), if you are pregnant, have epilepsy or are under the influence of any mood-altering drugs.

About 10 years ago, I found that I had an overload of heavy metals in my body.  Under the guidance of my Naturopath, I did chelation therapy. I also used the sauna every day for 1 hour.  I did this for an entire year.

It was difficult at first.  I could only stay in for about 10-15 minutes and then I needed a cold shower and a big glass of water.  But I soon became accustomed and eventually would stay in for 30 minutes, take a long cold shower and then 30 minutes more.   I drank a lot of water; before, during and after.

After a month or so, I actually started to sweat.  I never used to sweat, even when I exercised.  I saw this as an important change in my body.

After the year, I had more testing done and there was a significant decrease in the amount of heavy metals in my body.  They were not 100% gone but definitely on the low end.

I use the steam room now.  I enjoy both the steam room and the sauna.  I would alternate between the two, if I could.

I know that there are many people out there who don’t believe that saunas and steam rooms are useful for detoxification, but I disagree.  When used safely and properly, I believe that all ages can benefit.  Saunas and steam rooms have been around for centuries.  Even if it is only for relaxation and stress relief; that is a detox in itself.

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How to make a Simple Smoothie

Organic strawberriesMy son got himself a GoPro.  I had never heard of a GoPro but I  now know that it is this cool little video camera that has all kinds of features.

He said that I could use it to make a video in the kitchen.  Awesome.

I have only done one other video before, that is about what I typically eat in a day.  Check it out here.  It was made not long after my head injury.

I decided to make a short video for you; showing you how I make a smoothie in the morning. Very, very simple.

I was rather nervous and so I am not my usual smiley self!  With practice, I will get better. Watch it here.

The measurements for the ingredients are all listed below.

I forgot to mention that adding your favourite flavours is a great idea.

Here are some suggestions:

  • vanilla
  • maple syrup (just a little)
  • cinnamon
  • raw cacao powder
  • freshly squeezed orange juice
  • almond butter
  • use hemp or flax seeds instead of chia
  • coconut oil

Breakfast Green Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 cups
 
This is a very simple smoothie that can easily be modified to suit your tastes. Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • liquid to cover chia seeds
  • 1 heaping cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 10 oz spinach or green of choice
  • ½ avocado (optional)
  • liquid to cover (water, coconut water, almond milk, cashew milk, etc)
  • protein powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Before you hop in the shower, put your chia seeds in your blender and cover with water to soak.
  2. Once you are ready, put all ingredients in the blender.
  3. Blend for several minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings (may need to add vanilla or another banana or a shot of maple syrup)
  5. Pour and enjoy until you feel full.
  6. Save the rest for later in the morning.

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GMO. What’s the Big Deal, Anyway?

GMO tomatoes

In my previous post, I shared with you a list of companies who have invested significant amounts of money to continue to produce foods with genetically modified organisms (GMO) as well as prevent the general public from knowing that they are consuming foods with GMO.

What I did not share was information about GMO foods, what they are, what to look out for and how to make sure that you and your family have the best food that you can provide.

At one time I did not know much about genetically modified organisms (GMO).  I was in the dark about the whole thing.  When I learned about GMO, I became very concerned.

What are GMO Foods?   GMO foods have had a gene from another organism (plant, animal, virus, bacterium) forced into them, altering its DNA.

Can you believe it?  Putting animal genes into plants?  Here I am a vegan and I could be consuming animal products through vegetables or other foods that are plant based.

This process initially began to  increase crop protection and production.  It is said that GMO foods keep insects and disease at bay. Resistance against insects is achieved by incorporating into the food plant the gene for toxin production from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This means that the plant produces its own pesticide! Yikes! The crops are more resistant and therefore the crop yield is also increased.  Genetically modifying these foods is used for drought tolerance, hot and cold temperature resistance, as well as ensuring that products travel well.

At what cost, I ask?

Are GMO foods safe?

A lot of people don’t think so.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) doesn’t think so. The Academy reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including but not limited to:

  • infertility
  • immune problems
  • accelerated aging
  • faulty insulin regulation
  • changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

What? This is absolutely terrible.

The following information comes from the Institute for Responsible Technology:

It has been found that:

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.

Some other factors to consider:

  • If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer into bacteria living inside our intestines, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics
  • If the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were to transfer into bacteria living inside our intestines, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.

This is a big deal.  A very big deal.

10 Ways to protect yourself and your family

1. Choose organic 100% of the time.

  • According to the Organic Trade Association, “The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs, and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

2. Avoid the most common GMOs. 

They are

  • soy
  • cotton
  • canola
  • corn
  • sugar beets
  • Hawaiian papaya
  • alfalfa
  • squash (zucchini  and yellow)

Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. For instance, your family may not eat tofu or drink soy milk, but soy is most likely present in a large percentage of the foods in your pantry.  Corn is also in many, many processed foods.

3. Read labels carefully.

  • GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

4. Buy whole foods and cook from scratch.  It is estimated that 80% of grocery store products contain GMO.

5. Start your own organic garden.

6. Sign this petition Support GMO labelling.

7. Watch the film Food Inc.

8. Pass information on to your family and friends.

9. Follow “Millions Against Monsanto” on Facebook.

10. Do the best that you can.

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Barbara’s Raspberry Dream Cakes

Raspberry Dream CakeI enjoy desserts that are delicious in flavour, not in sweetness.  I would rather have a juicy piece of fruit than say, a doughnut with icing.

In order to please myself with a dessert that I would love, I made this recipe this past weekend.  We had a holiday on the Monday (Victoria Day here in Canada) and I thought that I would make something special.  I made it as a cake in a springform pan rather than the individual cakes that I will show you today.

We ate it all up with smiles on our faces, longing for more.

Since I did not photograph the initial process, I decided to make the recipe again.  Last night, after work.  This time as individual cakes.

 

Dream Cake 1

I organized myself in the morning by soaking the dates and the cashews and putting the coconut oil in bowl, ready for the warm water bath.  I also took the raspberries and coconut meat out of the freezer.

I worked the evening and did not arrive home until 8:30pm.

I started preparing the cakes and by 9:30pm, the delicious treats (and photos) were complete AND I had tidied up!  Not bad, I say.

How is this done?

Let me tell you…

Remember to use organic products whenever possible.

Begin by soaking your cashews in water.

soaking cashews

Next get your dates soaking.

soaking medjool dates

Add the chia seeds to the thawed raspberries, along with the juice from the raspberries.  Put this mixture in the fridge to allow it to thicken.

raspberries and chia

Set out the coconut meat to thaw.

coconut meat

A word about the coconut meat.  I used an unpasteurized, organic,  frozen coconut meat.  This was my first time using the frozen meat.  It really added to the flavour of the creamy filling.  It is full of electrolytes and antioxidants and is so healthy for you.  It is a little on the pricey side but I think that it is worth it.

To make the base, you will need to grind the almonds to a fine meal…

almond meal

…add the dates (drain them first) to bind it all together.

almond and date crust

So far so good, right?

Get out your muffin tins and put a bit of parchment paper in each.  This will make it easier to get the little guy out when you are ready to enjoy it.

Make balls of the dough and flatten them out by hand.  Put them in the bottom of each muffin tin.

crust in the tins

Now for the filling.  Are you excited yet?  I am!

Drain the cashews and put them in the food processor.  I don’t bother to clean out the processor.  Let’s keep it simple, shall we?

Add the remaining ingredients: lemon rind, lemon juice, melted coconut oil, coconut meat, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

ingredients for filling of Dream Cake

Process this until it is smooth and creamy.

creamy Dream Cake filling

Scoop on top of the crusts in your muffin tin and top with the raspberry sauce.

Dream Cakes in the tins

Place in the fridge to firm up.

Dream Cake

Serve and enjoy.

Dream Cakes

Oh my,  definitely enjoy.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Barbara's Raspberry Dream Cakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16
 
This is a refreshing, delicious dessert that can easily be made into a round cake in a 8 " springform pan. Switch the raspberries for other fruits that you like. Get organized the day before you want to make this. Thaw the raspberries, soak the dates and cashews. Add the chia to the raspberries. When you are ready to start, it will be a swift process.
Ingredients
  • 300g frozen raspberries, thawed
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted (1 cup), soaked at least an hour
  • 1¼ cup cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 large lemon, about ¼ cup
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted using warm water bath method
  • ½ cup young coconut meat, thawed
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Place the thawed raspberries, along with their juice in a bowl and add the chia seeds. Stir together until well combined. Set aside in the fridge, to allow the mixture to thicken. May be done ahead of time and kept in the fridge.
  2. Place the coconut oil in a bowl and put this bowl in a bowl with hot water. Set aside to let the oil liquefy.
  3. Grind the almonds in a food processor until it resembles a fine meal.
  4. Chop the soaked dates and add to the almond meal. Pulse until a sticky dough forms.
  5. If making individual cakes, divide the dough into 12-16 balls. Flatten with your hands, to form small circles that will fit in the bottom of the muffin tin.
  6. Put parchment paper in your muffin tins and place the circles in the bottom of each tin. Set aside.
  7. In your food processor, put (remaining ingredients) cashews, lemon rind, lemon juice, melted coconut oil, coconut meat, maple syrup and vanilla. Process until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.
  8. Scoop a heaping tablespoon or enough to fill the muffin tin ¾ of the way, into each muffin tin. You may have filling left over (darn!). Have it for breakfast.
  9. Scoop some raspberry sauce on to each cake.
  10. Place in the fridge for a few hours.
  11. Remove from the tin and serve.
  12. May be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  13. May be stored in the freezer (be sure to bring to room temperature before serving) for up to 2 weeks.

A Sample Plan for You

Sample Menu PlanThis is a picture of the plan of the week for my family.  Right now during the week, it is myself, my 17 year old son and my 12 year old daughter.  My husband works a lot during the week and my eldest daughter is away at University.

I made this plan on a simple whiteboard that stays in the kitchen.  When the kids get home, they can see what time I will be home, what the dinner plans are and if there are other things going on.  It works quite well.

If I am at work and they don’t know how to prepare something, then I can explain what they need to do.  New recipes are written in ‘The Gold Book’ for future reference.

All of the meals that you see listed are vegan and gluten-free.Continue Reading

A Simple Guide to Menu Planning

Rainbow SaladI feel that it goes without saying that organization is the key to successful menu planning.  Having a clean and well-organized kitchen will encourage you to spend time there and create beautiful dishes for yourself and for your family.

Balance is also important to planning a weekly menu.

Balance

  • the season
  • the weather
  • your health
  • your individual tastes
  • what is available to purchase
  • your cooking and working schedule
  • the dietary needs of your family.

I feel that this can be applied to any type of diet.  I choose a Plant-based, Whole Foods diet that is gluten-free and vegan with mostly raw foods.  That is what works best for us.Continue Reading

Strawberry Lemon Chia Pudding

imageI splurged and bought beautiful organic strawberries this week.  I really wanted to just eat all of them but decided that I had better share with my family.  So I made this pudding for dessert tonight.  I had some for breakfast too but don’t tell anyone.

Chia seeds have amazing health properties.

Here are just a few:

  1. Important for digestive health – high in fibre
  2. High in Omega 3
  3. Good for your bones – high in Calcium
  4. High in Manganese – another nutrient that is good for bones
  5. Helps reduce belly fat – stabilizes blood sugar
  6. Lowers cholesterol

Great reasons to eat chia seeds, right?Continue Reading

7 Steps to Returning to Health

imageThis my 12th week back at work since my brain injury in September 2013.  At the time of writing, I am now working 5 hours per day, 5 days a week.

What a journey it has been.

I feel pretty good.  Sure I am tired and have better days than others but for the most part, things are going quite well. I attribute this success mostly to my diet and lifestyle and of course a positive outlook.

In order to ensure that I eat the best foods possible and get outdoors for exercise on a regular basis, I need to be organized.  I still have children living at home and my husband works away during the week so I needed a system.  I want to share with you what I have do that has helped me through this healing process.Continue Reading

Vegan Pad Thai Made Easy

Barbara's Vegan Pad Thai Made EasyMy eldest daughter does not enjoy preparing meals.

She is a snacker.

I think she may even forget about eating until she is too hungry.  This is often because she doesn’t want to take the time to make anything.  She likes it to be ready.

This post is dedicated to her.  I want to show her that it is possible to make something delicious, filling and healthy that does not take much time.  And it isn’t soup!Continue Reading